Marquette’s Changing Waterfront

In writing My Marquette, I realized how seldom people think to take photos when historical changes are happening around town because it was very difficult to find some photos–some I never found–so now and then I like to take photos of what’s changing around Marquette.

Remains of Marquette's old docks in the Lower Harbor

The remnants of Marquette's old docks

Some of my blog readers no longer live in the area, and if you haven’t been home for a few years, you would be surprised by how the Lower Harbor is being transformed. The new Founder’s Landing development is, after a slow beginning, moving forward rapidly with new condominiums (which have become controversial because their height blocks some people’s views of the water front). A new hotel has been begun, and although it was supposed to open this fall and is way behind schedule, it is also progressing.

New Hotel Founder's Landing

Construction of the New Hotel at Founder's Landing

New walkways and an extensive boardwalk along the water allow for the best view, short of being in a kayak, that anyone has had for years of Ripley’s Rock, and the new boardwalk is quite massive.

At the same time, ruins of the old docks remain as posts in the lake; hopefully, they will remain for years to come as reminders of when Marquette’s Lower Harbor was filled with ships and docks. And the last ore dock in the Lower Harbor remains, tall and strong and not likely to leave us for decades yet to come while her older sister at Presque Isle Park remains Marquette’s last functioning pocket dock.

Ripley's Rock Marquette's Lower Harbor

Ripley's Rock, Marquette's Lower Harbor

This newly christened area of Founder’s Landing – Blaine Betts of Marquette holds the honor for coming up with the name – is a far cry today from what the early founders – Robert Graveraet, Peter White, Amos Harlow, Captain Samuel Moody – would have recognized, and Chief Kawbawgam and the Chippewa never could have imagined giant pocket days, much less the condominiums now facing the lake.

The Boardwalk in Marquette City

On the Boardwalk in Marquette City

Some are less pleased than others by the development, but overall, I believe the changes are all for the better. Marquette just seems to become more beautiful with each year, while retaining its natural charm and its connection to its past.

Surely, visitors to Marquette will continue to consider us one of the best places in the country to live, work, and play as our lake shore becomes beautiful to complement the breathtaking views of the shining big sea water – Lake Superior. Once again, I can’t help but be reminded of the words from the film Meet Me in St. Louis that equally apply to Marquette: “Wasn’t I lucky to be born in my favorite city.”

the boardwalk in Marquette's Lower Harbor

View of Marquette's Harbor looking South from the new Boardwalk.

Explore posts in the same categories: Downtown Marquette, Marquette History, Marquette Maritime History, Upper Michigan History, Upper Michigan Sites to Visit

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4 Comments on “Marquette’s Changing Waterfront”

  1. L. Emerick Says:

    Thanks for the photos…good overview of the Lower Harbor area. Some of the changes are indeed for the better….cleanup of the tank farms, accessibility to walkers, bikers, lake viewers, the plantings, walkways and benches. Others could have been better planned….condos for example do not block just some people’s view of the lake, they block all people’s view of the lake from the bypass, Front Street and upper streets. Surprised the local developers didn’t have more sensitivity to their impact, but suppose the extra $$$ from the extra floors took precedence in planning. City may have dropped the ball here.


    • Thanks for the comment, Lynn. You are right. Those buildings do block the view of the road and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to live in them that close to the road. It is surreal to drive by them that close to the road–makes me feel like I’m on the S-Curve through Grand Rapids.

    • jim F Says:

      I thought about this for some time. (blocking the view from the bypass) If there was not a 3 story limit on those buildings, then they could have been taller and more slender, not so boxy and thus you could even have true view corridors in between and the taller structures would look attractive (saving and loan building comes to mind) with the lake behind them. The developers need to make money and lake front is expensive. So thinking outside the box, perhaps the city droped the ball by restricting the height too much.


      • Thanks for the comment, Jim. Interesting thought. Only time will tell if they last and are eventually appreciated. They are an improvement on what was there before. I wouldn’t have minded seeing the lake between them if they were taller since you’d only see sky anyway above them.


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